I began the ‘Daniel Fast’ on October 1, 2019. It’s a fast based on the book of Daniel in the Bible. When Daniel was taken into captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar, he asked the King’s servant to allow him to only eat food grown in the earth and to only drink water–refusing the food from the King’s table of rich meats and wine. The Jews of the Old Testament had many dietary restrictions and to partake of this food would defile Daniel and his friends. At the end of the trial period of 10 days, if he was still strong and healthy, it would be proof that the diet was good and he would be allowed to continue it. Later in the book of Daniel he was in mourning due to a vision he saw concerning future events–times of war and hardship and he had been refusing rich food, meat and wine for 3 weeks. This fast from rich food put him in a position to hear from God and as a result he is listed as one of the great prophets in the Old Testament. Many of his prophesies also align with the prophecies in the book of The Revelation. It is this part of Daniel’s story that sets the time period of fasting at 3 weeks.
I was studying Daniel in the First 5 app and felt convicted that fasting and prayer are important and because of the troubling issues in my life, I needed to take time to fast from rich food and pray. I fasted every year in January for about 4 years, but the last two I chose not to. I believe this practice of fasting strengthens my ability to resist unhealthy food and drink for the rest of the year and is a time of more intense prayer and fellowship with God.
I struggle with legalism– I tend to lean in that direction. I am a rule keeper and love structure in my life. Doyle is more of a free spirit and I suppose I was attracted to that ability to ‘go with the flow’. If I’m not sure what is happening I am filled with anxiety. It has been a pattern for me for most all of my life. As I’ve aged, I am learning to relax some and take things as they come. I mentioned legalism because every year that I’ve done the Daniel fast, I have strictly adhered to the guidelines. Some years, it was extremely hard because of things happening in my life; for example Doyle’s mom (GC) would be in the hospital and finding the right food was difficult but I always managed to stay true to it. I began to think about relaxing the ‘rules’ a little just to make preparing food easier and some Doyle will enjoy as well. The strict diet is anything grown from the earth and water–no dairy, no meat, no processed food-no bread with leavening–just fruit and vegetables and water. I was trying to convince myself that I didn’t have to be legalistic about it, but in reality ‘cheating’ was wrong and completely defeated the purpose of the fast.
One of the ‘problems’ with making a decision to fast for spiritual reasons is that pressure from Satan gets very strong. A few days into this fast, I just didn’t think I could do it. I was discouraged and had negative thoughts swirling around in my head. At one point, I told Doyle, “I can’t do this’. He immediately said, ‘ Why, you’ve done it before.” It jolted me to realize that all this negative thought and discouragement was coming from the enemy and he would have been delighted for me to give it up. After I got over the ‘hump’, it was a wonderful three weeks. I chose not to say anything to anyone, except Doyle. There is often pride involved when you announce that you’re fasting and I chose to make it natural and not make a big deal of it. It was the right thing to do.
The Bible speaks often of prayer and fasting. In fact, when Jesus was led into the wilderness for 40 days, he ate nothing at all and became very hungry, at which point Satan tempted him to turn the stones into bread. When we fast to seek the Lord, His strength is made perfect in our weakness. There are many ways to fast. Some people skip a meal and spend that time in prayer. Others may do a complete fast (no food or drink at all) for a 24 hour period. It’s not something you do to lose weight. Although you may lose a few pounds during the three weeks, that is not the objective.
There are several books about the Daniel Fast with recipes and suggestions for meals. It is very helpful to have this companion if you choose to do the Daniel Fast. My favorite is The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast by Kristen Feola. Another one is The Daniel Fast for Spiritual Breakthrough by Elmer Towns. Both books include recipes.
Fasting also ‘detoxes’ your body. Coming off sugar, bread and coffee is very hard for me. I know I eat too much sugar and bread and with diabetes in my family, it is a dangerous habit. The fast strengthens my self control and proves to me that even though my body craves a certain food, I don’t have to give in to the craving.
Fasting is a spiritual discipline that will grow your ‘spiritual muscles’ stronger and clear your body and mind of toxic things so hearing from God will be more clear. Pray about it and if you feel led, take that first step. I’d love to hear from you if you choose to do it.